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As Oklahoma Heads to Manhattan, the Game's X-Factor May Not be a Sooner

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson's status for the contest against OU is a still a mystery.

Nothing is certain ahead of Oklahoma’s visit to Kansas State on Saturday.

The No. 6-ranked Sooners will limp into Manhattan 4-0 despite not being pleased with their performances against Tulane, Nebraska and West Virginia.

Awaiting them will be their thorn in the side as of late, as Chris Klieman’s Wildcats have upset the Sooners two straight years behind the heroics of quarterback Skylar Thompson.

And while the Sooners still search for an identity on offense, the biggest question surrounding the contest will be Thompson’s availability.

Thompson suffered a right knee injury in Week 2 against Southern Illinois, and his status is up in the air for the weekend.

Oklahoma has seen enough of Thompson, as he rushed for four touchdowns two years ago against the Sooners in Manhattan, and then followed that up with another three touchdown performance on the ground last year in Norman.

Thompson said he was inspired by Klieman’s message ahead of their first upset against OU in 2019, and it put him in the right headspace for a big performance.

“Something I really took note of was coach Klieman and that week of preparation was, all he talked about was K-State,” Thompson said at Big 12 Media Day back in June. “It was never about the opposing team and what their names and across the chest, it's about its about us.

“Going into that game, I don't know we're 20 point underdog or whatever the case may be, that's a situation that that I thrive in, that we thrive in. Whenever everyone's not giving us a chance doubting that that's where you want to prove everybody wrong.”

Skylar Thompson has combined to throw for 547 yards and a touchdown, adding 49 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns the past two years against OU

Skylar Thompson has combined to throw for 547 yards and a touchdown, adding 49 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns the past two years against OU

Kansas State’s backs are against the wall again as they welcome the Sooners to town.

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On Saturday, the Wildcats were dominated in the first half against Oklahoma State without Thompson at the helm, getting outscored 31-13 in the first half.

The Cowboys coasted across the finish line and handed Kansas State their first loss of the year, closing out a 31-20 victory.

Oklahoma is currently favored by 10.5 points this weekend per Bovada, but Kansas State will have no reason to fear their incoming opponents.

“After beat them in 2019, playing last year — we know we can we can beat them,” Thompson said. “We know we can we can hang with anybody if we play our game and and stick to the script and trust the process. The big challenge for us is being able to bring that mentality every game and not having a roller coaster approach to who we're playing or whatever the case may be.”

If Thompson is able to give it a go on Saturday, he’ll bring a calming influence to the week of preparation and to the sideline, Klieman said at Big 12 Media Day.

“He goes about his business the same every week, no matter who we're playing,” Klieman said. “And he maybe just rises to the occasion. Maybe some of the other things, you know, factor into that with with (Deuce Vaughn) making a play (last year) or us creating a turnover or blocking a punt.”

OU’s offensive struggles have the Sooners looking as vulnerable as they have in years, and they’ll be entering a viper’s pit in Manhattan as the Sooners will get their first taste of a road atmosphere since it was announced that they would be headed to the SEC along with Texas.

And while the offense tries to get back on track, the defense may have to do something it never has under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch — contain Thompson.

“We have to be consistent in our preparation and consistent during practice that week and approach every game like we're playing Oklahoma,” Thompson said. 

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